News UK and Clock have once again collaborated in providing a platform for rewards to digital customers, Sun+ Perks, as The Sun became the first tabloid to put content behind a paywall.

Tabloid readers are turning to the internet, with a greater demand than ever before for up-to-the-minute digital content and news headlines. As The Sun introduced a digital membership fee, it wanted to offer a system of rewards for readers who signed up. Given Clock’s successful five-year partnership with News UK on Times+ (the loyalty website for The Times and Sunday Times), we were their first choice when it came to launching The Sun’s own customer loyalty platform, Sun+ Perks.

Our brief

Covering both design and build, the Sun+ Perks brief was for a platform that would be used both to showcase a catalogue of rewards and to implement consumer surveys. Security, particularly fraud prevention, was also high on the agenda. The challenge here was that offers could be redeemed using a variety of methods, from voucher codes to a membership card, so security considerations needed to cover all bases.

The approach


Creating a responsive web design was central to the project, to ensure that all content would render correctly across multiple devices. We also designed a simple navigational display, streamlined to the bare essentials. The homepage was given a fresh clean design, with offers divided into ‘Must-Have’ perks, weekly perks and ‘Everyday’ perks - offering easy choices for users. A key focus of the design for the offer page itself was how to communicate the details in the clearest way possible. Simple boxes for cost, when, where and how to redeem the offer were designed - so that the essentials could be viewed at a glance. We also added a ‘plus’ icon which instantly showed users the value or saving of the ‘perk’.

User experience

Location services were introduced to assist consumers in their selection of offers. Readers can search either by location (identifying what perks are available near them) or desired perk (identifying the closest point of redemption). All search requests are retrieved via a Google API, providing an almost instantaneous response.

As specified in the brief, certain rewards would require the user to answer a short list of questions prior to redemption, but for optimal user experience this was developed as an optional feature.

Fraud protection

In tackling fraud prevention, the team came up with the concept of an animated membership card. The design would be unique to each user, while the animation would prevent the ability to screenshot the image and duplicate the card. The user would need to present the live version of the membership card when redeeming offers, and it could be verified in real time. Transactional data would also be communicated via an API to Sky IQ, who provide News UK with a continuous stream of customer insight.

Seamless integration with News UK’s security system was also built in, to avoid risk without impacting on the user. In order to access content and redeem offers, customers log in using either their personal identification number or a unique number that can be found on printed editions.

Technical infrastructure

Both design and development teams had to take into account that the number of available offers would vary on a weekly basis. For this reason, the perks section of the site was designed to be highly adaptable with flexible formatting. To deliver such an adaptable and user-friendly site, we created a bespoke CMS with Backbone.js, which meant the team at News UK could edit the vast majority of the content modules themselves. An asset library stored all offers, allowing content editors to utilise a catalogue of historical uploads.

The adaptable and responsive web design was assembled using a fluid ‘mobile first’ technique to ensure content optimization across all devices. The site also needed to be able to support high volumes of traffic, so we used Node.js for the build, which allows for increased server capacity and greater scalability over alternatives such as PHP.

The Experience

Screen-shot Avenue Imperial floor chooser.

Responsive web design

Users can view all offers, beautifully designed and optimized across all devices, with a tile system for PC users and a scroll system for mobile.

Photo of two female models dressed in luxury clothing.

Enhanced location services

Tailor-made search requests based on location or required perk.

Screen-shots of the Avenue Imperial shopping mode conversing with a sales assistant.

Robust technical infrastructure

A complex build with the flexible and fully scalable Node.js.

Screen-shot of interactive virtual shopping on Avenue Imperial.

Clear navigation and simple design

Streamlined navigation and image-rich design to highlight the offers themselves.

Screen-shot of the screen capture controls for interactive virtual shopping on Avenue Imperial.

High levels of fraud protection with innovative membership card

An animated ‘real-time’ membership card defeats fraud and collects customer insight data.

Collective photo of luxury items available from Avenue Imperial stores.

Adaptable CMS

Self-contained content modules and an asset library make it simple to update to the site.

The Results

The Sun+ Perks site launched in August 2013. Within the first 6 months, site visits surpassed 1.5 million, with an average visit duration of 2.16 minutes. The site is effective in helping The Sun in its acquisition efforts, with 50% of all traffic coming from new users. The fully responsive design means nearly half of all visitors are accessing the site via a tablet or mobile, while full social media integration is paying dividends as well, with referrals from social media also on the rise.


The support we receive from Clock on all matters is excellent — from day-to-day issues to big developments, the team are great and go the extra mile.

Zoe Dedes, Site & Social Editor of Sun+ Perks

Sound Interesting?

Got a question? Want some more detail? We'd love to hear from you, contact Jason on +44 (0)1923 261166 or